Startup 4seTV is emerging from stealth mode next week with a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a box it has designed that will simultaneously split a TV or tablet screen into four functional windows.
The company expects that the ability to divide a single screen into four is a feature that can appeal to many viewers, but especially for sports fans, the first target audience for the 4seTV box. But 4seTV also has an intriguing proposition for cable operators – literally something for nothing, said founder Hyung Lim, whose previous experience includes a stint at Broadcom, in the group dedicated to designing silicon for set-top boxes.
The patience of even the most rabid football fans is tested by the experience of watching football on TV. You get 11 minutes of action (as calculated recently by the The Wall Street Journal) in 3½ hours. You’ve got at least two games simultaneously and you flip back and forth.
Many sports fans already have 80-inch screens or bigger; carving one of those into quarters would be worth it if it’s being done in the service of being able to see multiple games at once, so that you don’t miss anything as you’re otherwise clicking back and forth.
The 4seTV box takes in over-the-air signals, and streams them via a Wi-Fi router. Attach a TV antenna, an Ethernet cable, and the power cord, push a button to initiate setup, and you’re ready to go, Lim said.
If the Kickstarter campaign is successful enough, contributors will be able to get some of the first retail models in November for $99, and as production ramps in December, the box will be available for $179. The apps will be available for both iOS and Android.
“Selling this to sports fans? That’s easy,” Lim said. So that’s where he’s going to go first. Then the company will move on to other viewers.
Viewers who are not sports fans might be more interested in multiple TV windows than they initially realize. Lim’s example was someone who wouldn’t think of enduring a whole hour of “The Bachelor,” and will watch something else, but might still be interested in seeing who gets the rose at the end.
Where does cable come in?
Lim would like to negotiate for access to at least a couple of linear channels from each. But what does 4seTV have to offer in return? Screen real estate.
An MSO partner could get one of the four windows, and use it to send alerts or billing messages, or use it for promotions, or run a shopping channel, for example.
“I’ve been talking to cable operators, and I asked them, how often do you get to do nothing and still make money? That got some interest.”
But first, Lim has to attract enough sports fans.